With the chinese lunar calendar, Chinese New Year does not fall always on the same date each year based on the Gregorian calendar. So for many of us who are chinese, living abroad but have no access to a lunar calendar, we rely on our parents or the internet to inform us when the Chinese New Year will fall. Normally I would check like 5 months in advance, as plane tickets and bus tickets home tend to be fully booked if you don’t start booking 5 months in advance! Crazy!
This year though it falls incidentally on the 14th of February – ahah, Valentine’s Day. How poetic! It will be the year of the Tiger. (Several astrology sites are already saying it will be a rollercoaster year in politics, stock market and flat news for the housing market..but with the strong will and resolve of the Tiger – we will persevere).
We are about a month away only and it is time to start baking some traditional chinese sweetcakes (cookies and cakes)- usually when I was growing up, it about 2 weeks before the actual day helping my mom out but I am a little peculiar, I like to be quite organised in my preparations to a point sometimes I stress myself out unnecessarily. I tether towards the perfectionist side somewhat I have found out lately, just like my father!
I confess, well this year is different because instead of us going home to Penang to celebrate it with my family, my mom, grandma and my brother will be coming down to Singapore to celebrate it here with us! Thought I should give my mom a break and do the hosting ourselves here, so me the ambitious hostess – will be the good cook-lah, wife-lah, daughter-lah, sister-lah and granddaughter too. So I must now plan in advance what to make for the reunion dinner and the sweetcakes. I am a nutter when it comes to hosting anything – it is all in the details and I am into details and stickler to tradition (ok, ok to an extent)
Tnee Kuih photo from chanlillian.net
As I am indeed a one woman show, there are a few traditional kuihs (sweetcakes) I won’t be making – ‘tee kueh’ (steamed caramel glutinous rice cakes) and ‘kuih kapit’ (love letters – thin crepe like wafers, cooked over decorated metal flatplates on hot charcoal fire). My mom will be ordering 1 tin of kuih kapit from Penang to bring down to Singapore! Phew.. (ps – like many food bloggers from Penang are saying, I have to agree with many of them, it is sad to see the traditional ‘kuihs’ – sweetcakes are no longer made at home and many are being manufactured in the factories. Most modern folks have no time, too busy working and families are losing this tradition of making them to big food companies where quality and taste are compromised – I assure you that!)
kuih kapit photos from tuapui and fawked
This is my family’s recipe:
Love Letters (Kuih Kapit)
- 130 g rice flour
- 30 g plain flour
- 160 g sugar
- 2 ½ cups thick santan
- 5-6 eggs
Mix all together into pancake like batter. Put through a sieve to ensure smooth batter. Place on heated love letter iron plates and grill it over hot coals. Make sure iron plates have been oiled nicely. When toasted golden, scrap the loveletters off the hot irons carefully as they are very thin wafers now, and fold while hot into a triangle. Once cool they will become crisp. Store in airtight containers like used milo tin.
I won’t have a chance to make them as I need the floor space (living in a flat now) and the charcoal grill and loveletter irons which I don’t have. My family gave ours away when we moved house 20 years ago. I am on a mission to collect them back – wink!
My attempt this year instead would be to make the following (and I have never made any of them on my own before!!):
– melt in your mouth peanut cookies
– kuih bangkit (tapioca/arrowroot floury biscuits)
– almond cookies
– pineapple jam tarts (eurasian recipe)
– sugee cake or layer spiced cake , not quite decided yet!
As for reunion dinner, the menu is still work in progress but I will certainly post and share my (mis) adventures with you here. Stay tuned…
For more on CNY tradition, please read my previous post https://yoonsy.wordpress.com/2009/02/08/cny/